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tv   On contact  RT  June 30, 2020 10:00pm-10:31pm EDT

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welcomed on contact today we discussed the extradition hearing of julian assange with lawyer and author and professor margaret something that needs to be clarified chris is that hillary clinton's e-mails were revealed through a freedom of information act request filed in 20 well by the nonprofit citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington they were made searchable by both wiki leaks and the wall street journal and the destiny e-mails were retrieved by spearfishing whatever that means i'm not a techie spearfishing operation not by wiki leaks even james comey said that wiki leaks probably got the emails via an intermediary and wiki leaks as you said was
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not the only publication to receive and publish the d.n.c. documents intercepts politico and others wish them as well so this this whole issue of the d.n.c. hurting hillary clinton's campaign i think is really a red herring and depp people need to understand the facts. in early may the british court decided that the extradition hearing for wiki leaks publisher julian a songe originally scheduled for may 18th would be moved to september. this 4 month delay was made after a songes defense lawyers argued the difficulty of his receiving a fair hearing due to the restrictions imposed by the coville 19 lockdown asuncion declining health and showing clear signs of psychological torture according to neil's melzer the un special rapporteur on torture who visited julian asuncion
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prison is being held in london's atory a high security belmarsh prison for publishing classified documents which exposed u.s. war crimes in iraq and afghanistan he's been indicted on 17 counts under the $117.00 espionage act alone he is not a us citizen and wiki leaks is not a us based application charged with the unauthorized possession and dissemination of classified material something that has been performed by countless journalists including myself when i worked for the new york times and publishers over the decades the such case is a frontal assault on the 1st amendment it will be used should a songe be extradited tried and sentenced in the united states where he faces the possibility of 175 years in prison to shut down any press
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investigations into the centers of power. joining me to discuss the importance and ramifications of the a songe case is marjorie cullen professor america at thomas jefferson school of law where she taught from 1901 to 2016 and a former president of the national lawyers guild she edited and contributed to the books the united states and torture interrogation incarceration and abuse along with drones and targeted killing legal moral and geo political issues so marjorie let's just open with a summary of what. julian and wiki leaks did and then i'm going to ask you to explain the u.s. case that's been brought against him well in 20102011 wiki leaks published classified documents which were provided by u.s.
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army intelligence analyst chelsea manning and they contained $90000.00 reports about the war in afghanistan including the afghan war logs which documented civilian casualties by coalition forces that more than the u.s. military had previously reported wiki leaks also published 400000 field reports about the iraq war the iraq war lore logs and over 15000 previously unreported deaths of iraqi civilians and the systematic murder torture rape and abuse by the iraqi army and authorities that were ignored by u.s. forces wiki leaks also published the guantanamo files which were $779.00 secret reports providing evidence of systematic violations of the geneva conventions and the convention against torture where the us authorities abused
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nearly 800 men and boys ages 14 to 89 perhaps the most notorious or certainly the most famous revelation that wiki leaks made from what manning had provided them was called what is known as the collateral murder video which depicts a u.s. apache attack helicopter killing 12 civilians and wounded 2 children on the ground in baghdad in 2007 the helicopter then fired upon and killed the people trying to rescue the wounded finally a u.s.g. drove over the bodies cutting the man in half that constituted. 3 separate war crimes under the geneva conventions the uniform code of military justice and the army field manual now julian the son has been charged under the espionage act in the united states in an indictment stemming
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from those revelations of war crimes and the extradition treaty chris that you referred to. between the united states and the u.k. says extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which the extradition is requested is a political offense so the trouble ministration is trying to get britain to extradite julian assange to the united states to say stand trial on this indictment under the espionage act but there is an exception for political offenses and it's the u.k. courts that decide whether or not to extradite julian assange there's no clear definition of political offense but it routinely includes treason sedition espionage and offenses against state power and exposure of war crimes is clearly a political offense so he should not be extradited but when he had
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a hearing before the judge won't ultimately make the decision about extradition and she denied his attorneys' request for bail because he is in danger of being interest and now with the coven virus and being in in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day but one hour a day he's with 40 other people in a confined space he's got preexisting health conditions that make him even more vulnerable but she did at that hearing the judge to turn him around and said that she was not going to release him because there was a high risk of extradition in other words she was tipping her hand that she is leaning toward granting the extradition talk about the espionage act 117 wilson passes that. it's not only it's a no the you have roughly the equivalent of the british foreign secrets act it's about passing information to
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a hostile force the enemy but it's used against dissidents i believe it's used as was deb's charged on of the dish an act or the espionage act probably under sedation act but it's also use. against the left it's talk about how that has become the blunt instrument in the hands of the u.s. government to go after a songe and what its original intent was yes it's in a ranch its original intent was to to prosecute spying and this is not spying what julian assigns did was to be a journalist to fulfill the freedom of the press which of course are our 1st amendment pretax and yet obama also used the espionage act as well obama went after more whistleblowers than any other president before him but obama did not charge julian a son because he was worried that what julian assange and wiki leaks did was also done by many other outlets such as the new york times dear spiegel the guardian
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a wound and they were worried that this would shell the right to report on national security matters so even the obama administration which went after whistleblowers in an unprecedented way didn't bring charges against julian assange well we should be clear that the wiki leaks material that you just outlined was published in all of these publications. and when obama went after the i think it was 8 or 9 whistleblowers kiriakou and others he did use the espionage act which i believe up until the obama administration had only been used 3 times since 1917 against whistleblowers including daniel ellsberg whose case eventual collapse is that correct that is correct yes. so yeah and you know what had i had. so talk about how they have used the espionage how they've kind of
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crammed the espionage act which is you say you know in essence about spying how they're kind of legally deforming it to go after julian. well they're saying that these revelations put certain into it confidential informants in jeopardy it turns out that's not really the case. and and therefore help the enemy and also course it puts the united states in a bad light because it's evidence of war crimes the united states you know does not like to be seen as as war criminals even though we've seen the commission of war crimes from the bush administration through the obama administration and now in the in the trump administration this is a bipartisan effort in part because wiki leaks also released the pedestrian e-mails exposing the hypocrisy of the hillary clinton campaign others not a lot of daylight between the trumpet ministration and the democratic leadership is
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there well i think something that needs to be clarified chris is that hillary clinton's e-mails were revealed through a freedom of information act request filed in 2012 by the nonprofit citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington they were made searchable by both wiki leaks and the wall street journal and the desk to e-mails were retrieved by spearfishing whatever that means i'm not a techie a spearfishing operation not by wiki leaks even james comey said that wiki leaks probably got the e-mails via an intermediary and wiki leaks as you said was not the only publication to receive and publish the d.n.c. documents intercept politico and others publish them as well so this this whole issue of the d.n.c. and hurting hillary clinton's campaign i think is really a red herring and debt people need to understand the facts surrounding that but
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nevertheless the democratic. you know hierarchy is as dedicated to extraditing and trying assad as the. and there isn't this is not a kind of there's no partisan debate over this is there no there's not unfortunately and there should be and i think that because of these myths about the d.n.c. and hillary clinton's e-mails the democratic leadership is is upset with wiki leaks and and they don't want to be course you know they're they're timid anyway about things like this and so i think yes there is no cush back and that's really really a tragedy because as you said this prosecution and extradite extradition prosecution of julian a son is just. really is a stab in the heart of the 1st amendment freedom of the press and people need to
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understand that now there was a kind of ramping up of the effort to extradite julian when wiki leaks published some internal documents from the cia about their ability to read traffic this got pompei on the trumpet ministration to. essentially begin to push with greater firmer towards the extradition explain what happened there well. as i said the obama administration chose not to indict julian a son should but the trumpet ministration once they saw that this was coming close to home with hail it cetera they became and you know that that. when wiki leaks published the you know a clinton e-mails after that actually trump said oh i love wiki leaks isn't that the leaks wonderful he was the best friend of wiki leaks but then when it comes
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closer to home and starts to implicate peo who is course the secretary of state then he decided ministration decided to go after julian songe great when we come back we'll continue our conversation with law professor mark recalling. 'd the primary purpose of history is to understand the past as a guide to understanding the present and future of his regime not be damed is feeling it was now just because a lot of history's painful a shameful so how do we find the right now and his dad to sign the right answer. is your media a reflection of reality. in
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a world transformed. or what will make you feel safe from. isolation community. are you going the right way or are you being that will. direct. what is true for his base. in a world corrupted you need to descend. to join us in the depths. of the shallowness.
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welcome back to on contact we continue our conversation with a legal scholar and law professor marjorie cohen about the extradition of julian a songe i want to ask you about chelsea manning who. although she wasn't pardoned but she was. released from this track on incentives that she was given in a military prison was. tried they tried to make her testify
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before a grand jury hearing to bolster their case against julian what would talk about that what's happening there and what the government is trying to do well. chelsea manning actually did not break the law even though she was there was a plea bargain and she was sentenced to 35 years in prison after she did 7 years obama released her and community her sentence as he was leaving office but chelsea manning as a member of the military had a legal duty to report work crimes the army field manual says every violation of the law of war is a war crime and the the last war crimes is contained in the geneva conventions and the u.s. army subject schedule number 27 dash one says it's the obligation to report all
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violations of the law of war so chelsea went to her chain of command to no avail and to ask them to investigate the collateral murder video which was very very disturbing to her understandably but her superiors refused and the uniform code of military justice and this is important especially in the context now of the protests. it's against the murder of george floyd and possible calling out of the military and whether. whether members of the military will refuse orders to basically fire on their fend federal fellow citizens the unicom farm code of military justice sets forth the duty of a service member to obey lawful orders but that duty includes the concomitant duty to disobeyed unlawful orders and in order not to reveal classified
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information that contains evidence of work crimes would be an unlawful order and therefore chelsea manning had a duty to report those were crimes but she is still being harassed and she was called before the grand jury. a stance ablate investigating julian assigned and wiki leaks she stood on principle in the in the courageous tradition of many people over the years and refused to testify and was region and actually attempted suicide and it was only after her suicide attempt that she was released and they said oh well we're disbanding the grand jury anyway we really don't need her testimony anyway but she's not off the hook at any moment she could be rearrested really harassed one of as dan ellsberg has said so eloquently she is one
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of the most courageous whistleblowers in the history of whistle blowing in the united states across you mention many others and there's edward snowden and there are many many others but she has she she did the right thing she reported war crimes which she had a duty to do and and she has faced nothing but harassment and trauma ever since and refuses to help the government to convection early in the signage. why is that issue important for the government some kind of evidence that julian was complicit in the fast why is that an important legal issue for them well because wiki leaks did what many other newspapers did as well any and many other publications as we've said and in order to bring it out of the protected 1st amendment freedom of the press category they need to show that julian assange stole these documents and he did something above and beyond what the
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new york times does speak a limo in the guardian did it and they think that chelsea manning can help them prove that but she will not do that when your observations how would you assess what's happening in the british courtroom as a legal scholar i think that you know of course the u.k. government works hand in glove with the united states they've done this for years they did it during the iraq war are partners in crime i call them with the with the u.s. government and this judge who is supposed to be fair and impartial. rates or is has has already tipped her hand about a decision that she should not have made yet on september 7th julian assange his extradition hearing will continue could go on for a few weeks evidence will be presented witnesses will be called she looks like she has prejudged the case and that's not the end of it once
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she. once once that that happens there is also there are peals to the high court to the to the court of appeal to the european court of human rights. if she actually if the judge grants extradition and says ok julian assange can be sent to the united states for trial on this indictment then there are several levels of appeal within the british system and then in the european system. before any extra actual extradition would take place and meanwhile and i think we need to mention this chris julian assange his health is severely deteriorating and i think you did mention neal's meltzer and talked about that he mentioned psychological torture when julian was in the ecuadorian embassy in london for 7 years and had some serious health problems and the u.k. government would not allow him to leave and go to
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a hospital which aggravated these medical conditions his health has severely deteriorated there's going to be there are going to be medical report submitted in the next month or 2 about his condition but there is another reason that julian assange should not be extradited aside from the political offense exception in the extradition treaty and that is the convention against torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which says has a provision called no way for which means that a person cannot be sent to another country where there is a substantial risk of being tortured and given the fact that chelsea manning when she was in custody was kept in solitary confinement for 11 months was stripped naked and made to appear before all the guards for inspection that amounted to certainly cruel inhuman and degrading treatment and the special u.n. report to her said it probably amounted to torture as well but he was not allowed
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to interview people that would have would have provided evidence of that and so given the fact that that's the way chelsea manning was treated there is a substantial likelihood that if julian assange were extradited to the united states he too would be subject to torture and this would be particularly dangerous for him given his fragile health from the years of being denied medical attention when he. he was in in the ecuadorian embassy in london i just want to add that the judge herself has been very petty for instance keeping julian locked in a glass box his attorneys asked that he be allowed to sit with them the prosecution actually didn't object she refused he strip searched his very limited contact with his lawyers are they confiscate his legal papers so there is a kind of subterranean unseen harassment legal harassment that's being directed
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against him there is chris and jeff parent lage 1000000 assigns was so ill last week he was unable to attend an administrative hearing in his case and. it does doesn't appear that he didn't want to attend it was just that he so weakened i just hope he survives this it would be such a tragedy it's already a tragedy but he's in such frail health and this could go on for several months and even years and ultimately he could even be extradited to the united states and all bets are off on what would happen to him once he got to the united states explain to me how legally you can justify using the espionage act but yet someone who is not a u.s. citizen and whose publication is not u.s. based you can't that's one of the things that will be mitigated it's it it
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it defies legal logic but of course that never stopped the trumpet ministration any kind of logic in the the law is something that it's anathema anathema to the trump administration but you're right and that is one of the things that will be litigated so if julian is extradited tried and sentenced what does that mean for the press what does that mean for a 1st amendment right what are there the legal ramifications. of his prosecution and sentencing for the rest of us their best press this is just this goes straight to the heart of what freedom of the press is all about in the 1st amendment and i would hope 1st of all i hope that he doesn't get extradited of course but if he does and he stands trial i would hope that people like charlie savage who during the obama administration wrote about how julian assange should not be prosecuted because it would violate freedom of the press and it would
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violate it would actually put the new york times and other publications in jeopardy as well for doing just exactly what wiki leaks did i would hope that other journalists would speak out and mount pressure and organize against this this this prosecution this persecution because they know that they could be next that this is really really dangerous for freedom of the press and that's why this is such a big case yes it's horrible the way he's been treated you know and falsely charged with with charges from not charge but being investigated from sweden by sweden for charges that turned out to be totally spurious the witnesses later said that they were they were basically forced to to make these accusations those charges were dropped he has been harassed and harassed and harassed and tortured
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but if he comes to this country and if he stands trial if he comes this country he would stand trial and is convicted this would be devastating to the freedom of press and and everybody knows that every every journalist knows that to talk about so let's. you know if there is a conviction it does set a legal precedent which is new and what does it allow the government to do that and again. let's say a publication like the new york times that publishes classified material which i in my 15 years at the new york times did as most investigative journalist of the times did right well 1st of all if he's connected if he's tried if he's extradited if he's tried if he's connected there will be an appeal and it will go through the courts of appeals and i think probably go up to the supreme court and of course it depends on who sitting on the supreme court at that time supreme court now is very very precarious lee balanced keeping to the right if trump gets another term he
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will solidify that to make those $72.00 right wing majority for decades to come so it depends on who's sitting on the supreme court. so. then once this case is published and decided by the higher courts then there is a precedent for whoever is in power at the time ministration at the time to use that precedent assuming that he loses his appeals julian assange loses his appeals to go after journalists and. outfits like the new york times should be very very concerned and of course this is a political prosecution a lot of it depends upon who's in power what publications are publishing what critical of the administration it will be used as a political tool to go after journalists and of course we know that
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trump has said that the press is the enemy of the people which is one of the most dangerous statements ever made by a us president the ramifications are vast great thank you that was marjorie cohen legal scholar and professor undoing assan extradition thanks mark thank you chris. yes.


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